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WHO Director-General's live speech at 2nd Global COVID Summit - 12 May 2022

President Biden, Vice President Harris,

Excellencies, Heads of State, Heads of Government, dear colleagues and friends,

First of all I would like to thank the United States, Belize, Germany, Indonesia and Senegal for bringing us together.

The last time we met, in September last year, little did we know that the Omicron wave was just around the corner.

So although reported cases and deaths are now decreasing globally, it is misguided to think this pandemic is over.

The pandemic is not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere.

In fact, cases are increasing in more than 70 countries.

At the same time, testing rates globally are plummeting, making us blind to the evolution of the virus.

And almost one billion people in lower-income countries remain unvaccinated.

We must continue to support all countries to reach 70% as soon as possible, with a focus on those most at risk.

Vaccine supply has improved, but absorption has not kept pace, due to insufficient political commitment, operational capacity and finance, combined with vaccine hesitancy driven by mis- and dis-information.

Our biggest challenge now is supporting in-country delivery of vaccines. For tests and new therapeutics, the problems are supply-side, with insufficient funds, and insufficient access.

The ACT Accelerator is the best way to get life-saving COVID-19 tools to the countries that need them.

But it faces a US$15 billion dollar shortfall.

WHO’s own Strategic Preparedness, Readiness and Response Plan, our comprehensive roadmap for ending the pandemic, likewise faces a shortfall of US$1 billion.

I thank President Biden for his announcement that the United States will license several innovative technologies to C-TAP.

And I welcome yesterday’s announcement of the new one billion dollar Global Health Worker Initiative.

At the World Health Assembly this month, WHO will present a plan to strengthen the global architecture for health emergency preparedness, response, and resilience.

This includes the creation of a Financial Intermediary Fund to support equitable access to life-saving tools in the face of future epidemics and pandemics.

I leave you with four requests:

First, we call for policy commitments to boost vaccination, testing and treatment in countries.

Second, we call for investment in local production.

Third, we call for financial commitments to fully fund the ACT Accelerator and WHO’s Strategic Preparedness, Readiness and Response Plan.

And fourth, we call for political commitment to support the Financial Intermediary Fund, and a new architecture for global health security.

I thank you.